There are some great, positive lifestyle changes that can really help you manage your abdominal pain and IBS symptoms. Try and build them into your daily routine as they will benefit your overall health as well as your symptoms.
If you find that stress makes your IBS worse, you’re not alone - 62% of IBS sufferers
say that stress can be a trigger for their symptoms, and there’s evidence to suggest
that stress and anxiety may trigger chemical changes in the digestive system in
many people, not just those with IBS.
Many people find exams or job interviews ‘go straight to their stomach,’ and you
don’t have to be an abdominal pain or IBS sufferer to notice that stressful situations can upset your
The painful abdominal cramps and other symptoms can stress you out too, so finding a way to get out of the cycle of
becoming stressed, which makes your symptoms worse and causes even more
stress, will really help.
Reducing the amount of stress in your life, or learning how to manage it, will have a
positive impact on your quality of life.
- Wind down and make time for you – read a good book or a magazine, have a
relaxing bath, listen to music or find your own personal way to chill out, just
make the time.
- Don’t bottle things up; speak to a work colleague or manager if work stress is
your problem. Confide in a partner, friends or family if you’re worried about
- Take control! Whether it’s your abdominal pain, IBS symptoms or another issue in your life there are
usually solutions – it’s important to find a solution that’s right for you and not
- Try something new – setting yourself a new goal or challenge, like visiting a
place you’ve always wanted to visit or learning a new skill, is a positive step
and helps build your confidence which in turn helps with stress.
- Avoid unhealthy habits. It’s very easy when you’re stressed to rely on
stimulants like caffeine, alcohol or smoking to help you cope, but they won’t help
your IBS and may create new health issues.
- Try a relaxation therapy like T’ai Chi, Pilates, meditation or yoga. Yoga is
thought to calm your digestive system as well as your mind, so we’ve put
together some simple exercises you can try specially designed to help relieve
- If you find something you really enjoy doing, you’re more likely to stick with it.
Swimming, cycling or even a fun dance fitness class might appeal to you and
increasing your activity levels will benefit your digestive system and overall
health at the same time. Getting energetic has a positive effect on your mood
and a knock-on effect on your symptoms.
- Ideally try to build yourself up to 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a
week if you can. Any exercise that you do should be strenuous enough to
increase your heart and breathing rates. If you like walking, a brisk walk or
walking uphill are both strenuous enough to count.
- If time is an issue try to be more active in your daily routine. Maybe you can
walk or cycle with your children to school rather than drive? Are you able to
go for a short 15 minute walk in your lunch hour – it would be a great way to
relax before eating your lunch! Try using the stairs when out and about
instead of lifts.